Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Sunshine and how to escape it

One day, not too far in the future, the feel of this blog is going to change. It will be great, one day, to make a post called “Hotel and house finally finished!”, or something similar. Then I guess we might switch the focus to food photos and landscapes and shots of undiscovered local oddities. But for now, we are still in the realm of incremental construction progress. So I hope you are all OK with another post that feels like a small step forward from the one before.

Overview of the project.

One bit of news is that the cafe is now open for business — at least it is on Sundays! And some local people have come by for long, leisurely Turkish breakfasts. We’d love to open more than just one day a week (and we do if someone books especially) but at the moment it’s hard to justify too much time away from the building work. Sadly we just can’t afford to have one or two of us sitting in the cafe all day waiting for potential customers.

Terrace looking welcoming, we hope, with a few more tables and the dog houses moved to a more suitable location at the other end of the property.

Terrace and cafe by night.

We’re still experimenting with exactly what goes into our breakfasts, but there are some staples that are always there: eggs in some form, fried vegetables, fruit, cheese, olives, lots of different jams, and of course bread.

Front to back: boiled eggs, tahini pekmez (sesame paste mixed with grape molasses), olives, butter & honey.

Front to back: apple, kiwi fruit & banana; peppers and aubergines in a tomato sauce; various jams; sigara börek (fried pastry rolls stuffed with cheese).

Spring seems to be rapidly turning into summer: today’s high will be 32 °C. And once again the warm weather has been great for the gardens. The wet winter has made it an especially good year for green things to launch themselves out of the ground.

Rose bush gone wild in the front right.

Gardens outside rooms one and two.

Garden with a view at the north end of the pool. Note the fast-growing mulberry tree just behind the trellis.

All this sunshine reminded us, though, that the pool was always going to need more shade before summer comes in earnest. The pavilion we built earlier is great, but it’s at its best in the morning. The late afternoon sun shines straight in and makes it much less hospitable. For a long time we considered going with big umbrellas (and you’ve probably seen the green umbrellas that the nice people at TwoFour Productions bought for us).  Still, the trouble with umbrellas is that a strong wind coming up the valley will often as not send them into the pool. So we sat down with Sketchup and designed a more permanent solution.

New sunshade.

One nice feature of the new sunshade is that from about 2pm in the afternoon it starts to shade one corner of the pool, making it possible for easily sunburned people (e.g., me) to get out of those UV rays.

Two layers of green shadecloth seems about right.

Middle of the day sees lots of shade around the pool now.

It’s not only the human population that have been enjoying the new and shadier pool environment. Cezmi and Sasha claimed two of the deck chairs for themselves. (Which reminds me, I need to build some nice wooden sun lounges as these chairs have seen better days.)

Cats enjoying the shade.

The cats, being cats, have been trying to claim territory all over the place. We had some guests who were far too nice and let Lucy sit on their laptop for a bit. I had a word with her afterwards though and she assures me it won’t happen again.

Cat enjoying laptop of tolerant guest. “Don’t look at gmail, look at me!”

The dogs are much more helpful and reliable, as ever. They’re not very keen on where we put their dog houses when we moved them up from the cafe terrace, so instead they have installed themselves as watchdogs in rooms three and four. They seem very happy there but I will have to break it to them eventually that rooms are for people.

Zeytin: straw dog.

And we have of course done some actual construction work. The second building has really taken shape now, with all the straw bales in. Just the fabric and mesh work to go before plastering begins.

Building two progress.

Interior progress, room four. Strips of wood define the bathroom walls, ready for old-fashioned lathe-and-plaster work.

The good weather has also given us more excuses to get out and about. Here are a couple of shots from Dilek National Park, 50 minutes south-west of us.

National park view. Greek island of Samos in the background.

Coastal drive with tree.

Finally, something we’ve never thought to include before. Opening the cafe meant we had to make sure the cafe bathrooms were finished and ready for business. You get to them by going outside, onto the veranda, and then around the corner. Thus nobody’s table is too close to the loo, which is good, but there’s a side effect of giving the bathrooms quite a nice northerly view. Here’s a photo of one of the bathrooms with an attempt to catch the view in the mirror.

Cafe bathroom.



  1. Wow, things have really come together. Your plants grow so quickly. The rose bush area, and the bit at the top of the slope (outside the pool area) especially.

    A technical question: you built the trellis yourselves I’m sure, but out of what type of wood? And what is it stained with? We want to make something similar here, and I am not sure whether to get treated pine (no rot, but a bit crappy looking), or something like western ceder and give it a protective stain.

    Is the wood direct in the ground, or concrete footings with steel at the base? I’m thinking for a trellis, it doesn’t hold up any structures, so if the wood is rot resistant just hammering it in the ground might be good enough.

    • Jason

      30 April, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      Cheers. Yes, we are very lucky with the plant growth. You get half-way mature-looking gardens in six months; results that would have taken a couple of years in the UK.

      We did build the trellis: good guess. It’s just made from normal pine. We do use treated pine for some stuff, mainly the lowest layer of the house framing (the part that gets bolted to the concrete foundation). But almost everything else we do is just plain pine. We just make sure that it’s never in contact with water or wet soil. So with stuff like the sunshade, we make iron “shoes” for the bottom of the posts. For the trellis we did something similar: there’s about 60cm of square tubing sitting underneath at each end, perpendicular to the line of the trellis. That has two lengths of rebar welded to it underneath, to act like giant nails that can be hammered into the ground. And there’s a couple of small pieces of angle iron to make a little bracket in the centre to hold the trellis itself. Finally we made four guy ropes out of twisted wire and attached them from the top of the trellis to the each end of the square tubing, to help keep it all upright.

      Sorry that’s probably not very clear. I can take some photos or draw a diagram if you need it.

      I think concrete footings would have been overkill for a simple trellis, but you could certainly do them. And sure, you can hammer any wood straight into the ground if you like, but I think depending on rainfall you will probably only get a few years of life out of it. If it’s treated pine you may get ten years out of it maybe?

  2. Darn. That looks good. I need to visit again. We still have snow storms here!

    • Jason

      30 April, 2018 at 7:13 pm

      Well, whenever you’re ready, I know I have to hold up my part of the bargain! ;)

      And thanks.

  3. You are making great progress. We are hopeful that we will get there one day. Kind regards Greg & Trish.

  4. Just stunning

  5. great seeing the garden flourishing, creating such a pleasant ambience around the cafe and rooms. Your permanent house guests look very contented in their expansive residences; I know they pay for their board with love and personality plus. I noticed they took precedence over their carers in the photographs. I remember well the lovely long breakfasts we enjoyed with you. The cafe looks great – what a top place to go for brunch. We can see that day you’re dreaming about of different news on the blog is getting closer and closer. Love to all

    • Jason

      1 May, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Thanks! Yes, progress feels slow sometimes but we are getting there. And I know, I should probably take more pictures of us but we are always so busy whereas the cats and dogs do nothing but lie about all day and pose for photos. :)

  6. Absolutely beautiful! You are both doing a great job. I hope one day we get there for a visit and taste some of that food – looks so good.

    • Jason

      1 May, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks very much. The food here is really worth the flight (and not just ours, of course). I think I can promise more food shots next post because Sirem is still pushing me to get the perfect breakfast photo for and Airbnb. :)

      PS: I saw your macrame work on FB. It looks good!

  7. Wow I am envious of your garden progress. I have been living in my new abode now for over a year and whilst I have made significant progress in my garden it doesn’t even rate compared to yours. It looks stunning. The building works seem to be progressing rapidly as well and the photos of the Turkish breakfasts bring back great memories and heighten my resolve to visit in the future. You are amazing.

    • Jason

      2 May, 2018 at 12:49 am

      Thanks, that’s really kind. Sirem says that drip-feed watering systems are the secret behind the garden. :) Would be great to have you over here and see if we can match the fun had by all in Kaş.

  8. Hi, I have Just recently watched your journey on tvnz of the first straw bale build. A beautiful job! Thanks for sharing, Hope all goes well with your future builds.
    You’re a delightful couple, keep putting each other first through all of this hard work!
    New Zealand

    • Jason

      5 May, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the programme and thanks for the lovely message. It really brightens our day when we get this sort of feedback, so cheers.

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